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Mehdi Bennani: ‘I think I may be dreaming’

An emotional Mehdi Bennani scored his first-ever World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) win in Shanghai on Sunday, thanking those who have kept the faith on him over the past six seasons in the championship.

From pole position in the reverse-grid race, Bennani was on top form throughout and took the win unchallenged by fellow Honda driver Tiago Monteiro. After the race, the Moroccan was clearly very emotional and thanked those who had supported him in his six-year WTCC career to-date.

“This is a fantastic feeling – I think I may be dreaming,” admitted Bennani. “Winning is something so special that I have been thinking about for years now.

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“I want to thank His Majesty the King of Morocco for having made this possible, in putting me here amongst the best drivers in the World Championship. I want also to thank my family for the total support, Honda, J.A.S. Motorsport and of course my Proteam Racing of Valmiro Presenzini. I gave 100% from the start to the very end. It’s something wonderful.”

The wins is Honda’s first of the season and for JAS Motorsport Managing Director Alessandro Mariani the win will come as a huge relief. It also means that all manufacturer’s of TC1 machinery have taken at least one win in 2014.

“This is a significant victory, for Honda, but also for the customers with the Civic because they are important for us,” said Mariani. “It’s a pity that Gabriele [Tarquini] had the power steering problem, otherwise we could have had a 1-2-3 podium.

“We proved that we had the right pace in Race 2. Everyone worked hard in the last months and weeks, this victory is good for the morale of everybody.”

With the WTCC’s next race taking place on the Suzuka GP circuit, Honda’s Large Project Leader for WTCC development Daisuke Horiuchi emphasised the significance of the recent performance upgrades in delivering the result. “This victory proved that we have the power. After improving the car in Beijing, Shanghai was the next step and now we are looking forward to make another step in Suzuka.”

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